Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will invest in products aimed squarely at the Chinese buyers and pour billions of dollars into alternative propulsion in order to win over more of that market, Automotive News reports. Already we’ve seen at least one example of the strategy in action: the large Jeep Grand Commander crossover utility vehicle, unveiled last April at the Beijing Motor Show. Another China-specific Jeep model to follow by 2022, Jeep Brand Head Mike Manley said at FCA’s five-year-plan presentation last week, with production to take place locally.
FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne conceded that the automaker made mistakes with Jeep in China, saying last Friday that “Jeep is somehow perceived as an exotic brand” in that market. “China is more difficult to solve for Jeep than Europe.” However, if FCA can successfully market Jeep as more of an “urban brand” than a rugged off-roader in the country, Marchionne said: “I think Jeep can become a legitimate top-tier brand in China.”
FCA’s other two brands sold in China – Maserati and Alfa Romeo – will stay away from local Chinese production for the duration of FCA’s new five-year plan, in order to preserve their “Italian character”.
Alfa Romeo will introduce new, long-wheelbase versions of the Giulia sedan and Stelvio crossover with Chinese customers in mind, and like Jeep, both brands will benefit from FCA’s $10.5-billion investment into electrification between now and 2022. FCA’s own forecasts suggest that by that year, 20 percent of its Chinese sales will consist of mild hybrids, and another 15 percent will be of high-voltage electrified models: conventional-hybrid, plug-in-hybrid, and battery-electric vehicles.